Google Analytics is the most widely used website traffic tracking technology in the market. Offering free and paid versions, this web analytics suite of tools helps businesses assess website performance across a dizzying array of categories.
With a user friendly dashboard, integration with AdWords (and what seems like a thousand other website-related tools) and robust tracking features, there’s a reason Google Analytics is a popular choice for a variety of business types and sizes.
Choosing Google Analytics as your web analytics tool and hooking it up is one thing. Knowing what data is most important is another challenge altogether. As we’ve stated in other blogs focused on metrics and KPIs, it’s not enough to just track these days; knowing how to make meaning from key data points and take targeted action is the only way tracking can have an impact.
So, when it comes to Google Analytics and your website, what data matters most?
Google Analytics offers a series of dashboards covering a host of categories from acquisitions and conversions to eCommerce and real-time tracking of website visitor activity. The capabilities are vast. For the purposes of this blog, we’re going to look at individual tracking functions within these broader tracking categories that are most important to keep an eye on.
Let’s take a look at five key website metrics to track with Google Analytics:
Understanding where your users are coming from better informs you on how to interact with them on your site.
Tracking where your website traffic is originating is critical to understanding the impact of your marketing efforts and how new visitors are finding your site.
Drilling down to see patterns in organic search traffic, direct traffic (when your website URL is typed directly), social media, referrals (websites linking to your site) or CPC (cost-per-click or paid website traffic) can help your business understand where to put its resources. Should you focus on organic keywords and SEO more than paid ads? Is social producing its desired impact?
Keeping an eye on overall traffic numbers and where this traffic is emanating from on a monthly basis can do wonders for your business strategy.
Session reports can give you a wealth of information about your users experience while using your website.
Website sessions are a key website KPI because they enable you to understand the type of website traffic your marketing and content deployment efforts are generating. Google Analytics defines a session as “...a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame.”
A single website visitor can engage in multiple sessions. An official Google Analytics session ends after 30 minutes of inactivity, a new day begins (sessions that start after midnight) or a visitor enters for a session from one campaign and then renters the site from another.
Being able to pinpoint brand new sessions from repeat users is very important. In a given month a high percentage of new sessions likely means marketing and advertising is performing wonders. That same month might also show a lower percentage of users engaging in multiple web sessions, which could mean your website content is not compelling or engaging enough to bring new visitors back for more.
In an ideal world, you want web traffic numbers to go up each month with a strong balance of new users and repeat users engaging in multiple sessions on your site.
Your bounce rate is like a golf score, you want it as low as possible, meaning more users are reading multiple pages in a single session.
The bounce rate, which is typically around 50%, measures when a visitor (new or repeat) ends a session without visiting a second page. When your bounce rate percentage increases this is a red flag about your on page content strategy or perhaps even your website as a whole. The higher the bounce rate, the less engagement; the lower, the stronger engagement. Watching this metric like a hawk can help you significantly improve your website’s performance.
Understanding what devices are displaying your site is crucial in improving its usability.
Understanding what device visitors are using to access your website can have a significant impact on your marketing and content strategy. If 85% of your traffic is coming from mobile devices, your website and other content offerings better be tailored to this particular user-experience. Knowing the way users access your website is very important to connecting with them and providing the type of content that they want most in a way that is user friendly.
Your website should have been designed to convert leads. That is its primary purpose. Very simply if your conversion rates for getting visitors to take action is very low, there’s a problem somewhere with your site map or how content is being created. Thus, this metric is perhaps the most critical of all to track through Google Analytics.
But beware. Some legwork needs to be done-and done accurately-for the conversion data to have merit. When we say “conversion” this could mean several things like clicking on a CTA or filling out a form or actually making a purchase. You and your team need to define and set goals within Google Analytics to ensure what is labeled a conversion is actually meaningful and actionable for your company.
Conversion data is critical to growing your business and a website key performance indicator that must be tracked carefully. However, setting Google Analytics up properly by creating the proper goals, linking to campaigns and connecting it to your funnel can be complex-but that a topic for another longer and more involved blog post. For now, check out this 101 tutorial to get started.
We hope these 5 key website KPIs to track with Google Analytics help move your along the path towards stronger website performance.